Most shareholder meetings are long-winded affairs, with annual reports, EBITDA projections and a lengthy list of resolutions, motions and elections.
Rarely do those in attendance burst into applause, except on those rare occasions when a hated CEO gets the ax after several years of declining earnings.
But there’s one such event that’s guaranteed to generate enthusiastic response to any number of announcements by management, and that’s the annual shareholders meeting of the Green Bay Packers.
That’s because the fans own the team, and they often get as fired up over trades and other moves by management as they do about an Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary touchdown.
Which, by the way, was part of the meeting last week, as Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy (no relation, unfortunately) showed a replay of Rodgers’ 61-yard, last-second touchdown pass that beat the Detroit Lions and won an ESPY as the best play in all of sports.
As ESPN.com reported (after plugging its award show), the unique character of the loyal Packer backers in attendance was then revealed.
“But those reactions weren’t any louder than the one Mike Weller, the chairman of the executive board’s marketing committee, generated with one word,” the story stated.
That one word? Bacon.
According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Wellers announced that the Packers are opening a “bacon-centric concession stand” at historic Lambeau Field. The new stand is to be called the Patrick Cudahy Packhouse, aptly titled, of courses because the company’s venerable brand is the team’s official bacon.
“I didn't realize that Patrick Cudahy would get quite the ovation,” Murphy said with a chuckle after the meeting adjourned. “It’s a credit, I guess, to the tastes of Wisconsinites.”
Patrick Cudahy, as most veterans of the industry know, was once one of what historians labeled the Big Four: Swift, Armour, Wilson and Cudahy, all massive companies a century ago, all founded by larger-than-life entrepreneurs who founded business empires that dominated meatpacking with a level of vertical integration that would be unfathomable in modern corporate governance.
Cudahy founded his company in 1888 and for decades its operations were headquartered in the company town of Cudahy, Wis., now a suburb of Milwaukee that has kept many vestiges of the once-thriving company as part of its history and heritage.
Since then, while those iconic brands still survive in the marketplace, the radical reshaping of the meatpacking and processing industry has sliced and diced and dispersed the remnants of those one-great corporations among other companies, some far removed from the meat business.
Unlike the Packers, who were also founded by an iconic entrepreneur, Earl “Curly” Lambeau in 1919, an innovative coach, a capable halfback in his playing days, and winner of six NFL championships in the 1920s and 1930s. Lambeau, like the legendary Patrick Cudahy himself, has his name attached to a popular product loved by football fans, even though few people alive today know much about what is now considered ancient history.
But that’s not the story here. Instead, if anyone is sick of all the “meatless meat” and vegan lifestyle stories, the antidote is a visit to the Packhouse and its red meat menu.
As the Gazette noted, Among the menu items will be “The Pigskin,” a bacon-wrapped baked potato topped with chili, chopped bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream and chives, and bacon-crusted cheese curds served with a side of bacon-ranch dressing.
Does it get any better than that?
Maybe a game-winning touchdown, sure, but for culinary comfort while watching a late-season game in Green Bay, where temperatures are known to dip below zero, a loaded Pigskin is just what fans need to provide the extra calories needed to compensate for the cold.
The agreement between the company and the team marks the first NFL partnership for Patrick Cudahy, a unit of Smithfield Foods, and the first time the Packers will have an official bacon, the company said. In a statement.
The goal, according to team officials, is for the new Packhouse to be opened in time for the teams’ first preseason home game on Agu.12 against the Cleveland Browns. David LeGrand, a sales executive in the team's Milwaukee office, said that the news concession will be located on the lower-level concourse of the stadium, making it “accessible to anyone in the seating bowl that wants to try the unique fare.”
Of course, the Pigskin isn’t the only treat Packers fans can enjoy at Lambeau Field. There’s The Big Game Burger, for instance. At 31/2 pounds, the burger combines a half-pound of ground venison, a half-pound of ground bacon and a half-pound of certified Angus ground beef topped with jalapeno cheese sauce, six strips of jalapeno-smoked bacon, shredded lettuce, six slices of tomato, pickles and a secret sauce.
Or perhaps you prefer The Horsecollar, a horseshoe-shaped 22-ounce kielbasa covered with a beer-cheese sauce and fried sauerkraut packed into a special horseshoe-shaped bun. On average, 400 Horse Collars are sold during each game, according to Charlie Millerwise, general manager of Delaware North, the foodservice vendor at Lambeau Field.
Although there’s no guarantee that the Packers will win the Super Bowl this season, one thing is certain: Fans at Packers home games will have some of the best food options to be found anywhere in the NFL.
Go Pack, go.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.